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AntwerpWarsaw BikiniIcelandHow the Soldier Repairs the GramophoneThe Original of LauraBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

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Time Since Reboot

  • 1252 days, 3 hours, 29 minutes, 47 seconds ago

A Few Notes About Running


So it turns out merely writing "exercise" on my daily to-do list is not enough to encourage me to get moving.  Last week, in response to my prolonged laziness, I decided to raise the stakes by signing up for the Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon.  This from someone who is in the worst shape of his life (thanks, Frontier).  In my final few college years (six years ago… wow, really?) I was in prime condition.  I went to the gym three days a week, ran laps around the quad, and generally was not afraid to take my shirt off at the pool.  As recently as a year ago I was running a five kilometer course around my Birmingham neighborhood’s rolling hills or hitting the elliptical machines at the YMCA at least a couple of times a week..  Now, despite living in an apartment complex with a free 24-hour workout room, and living in one of the best cities in the country for outdoor activity, I can never seem to motivate myself to get started.  Enough of all that.  Time to set a goal.  As of this post I have 119 days to get ready for 13.1 miles of agony glory.

It begins.

I struggled through 5K this morning (see the map below), and everything but the uphill slog on Academy Road seemed pretty manageable.  This altitude makes quite the difference, though.  I think that is what this first month is going to have to focus on:  just getting my conditioning back and adjusting to thin air.  I am not even going to worry about timing myself or setting specific distance goals until July.  Anyhow, today I finally hit the wall about 85% of the way through and didn’t want to stop.  Once I got back to the car I ran back to meet my wife, who was walking the roughly 3.4 mile circumference of Albuquerque Academy while I was running it.  Unnecessarily long story short – what a great Sunday morning!  I was up and the blood was pumping; all before 9 am.  For the remainder of the day, although I have been a tad exhausted physically, I have also been noticeably sharper and more alert.  I think we both reached the same conclusion: this should happen every day. 

Basically, my sluggishness has permeated every facet of my life at this point.  My memory is noticeably poorer.  I get fatigued just sitting at my computer at work.  When I get home, not only do I not feel like doing physical activity, but I cannot even muster the willpower to write or edit photographs or, sometimes, even submerge myself in a novel.  Mostly I just veg out and browse the internet with the dog (who, come to think of it, probably doesn’t care anything about the internet… aside from maybe the cat memes).  Today I had to remind myself that perhaps it is not that the stress of the day gets in the way of the activities I enjoy.  Maybe the absence of activities I enjoy contributes to the stress of the day.  How much better would it be to either start off the day with a run or else do a lap around the Academy after work?  Once I got into the rhythm of it, I am positive it would re-energize the rest of my life: my job, my writing, my relationships… everything. 

photo courtesy of mapmyrun.comI am sure of it because I have done it before.  Why is it so easy to forget such a basic lesson?  Even if it cannot give me back my creative energy, having more stamina and sharper focus will de-stress me enough so that I may be able to tackle the larger issues.  I have always been enamored with eastern philosophy and the practice of meditation, but I have never really been able to sit still for or even find twenty quiet undisturbed minutes during the day.  My meditation was my running.  It was where I could shut the noise of the world out and focus on the present moment, my immediate thoughts and emotions, etcetera and so forth.  And looking back, when I was able to practice mindfulness during a run, I was often able to be more mindful at my job and with my family. 

Anyway, I don’t want to go off on a tangent here.  This is not an exercise blog.  In fact, I intend to re-focus Grammaticaster even more on art and creativity and less on personal journaling (which I find pretentious and boring).  But every little compartmentalized bit of life affects everything else, too, and this grasp backward to recapture my old physical ambitions – which is totally within my power to do – will hopefully energize my interior, creative ambitions as well. 

Over the next few months, expect to see two or three updates on my progress toward the 13.1.  I am still working out the specific details of the training, but I’m thinking about splitting it into four stages: freshman, sophomore, junior and senior (because I’m doing my running around the Academy… get it?  I’m so clever.)  Freshman stage is just going to be about establishing (or re-establishing) the habit of running, as well as acclimating my lungs and muscles to the environment and intensified activity.  I will iron out the other three stages as the process gains momentum.

So: instead of looking at my list at the end of the day and casually, if wistfully, carrying the "exercise" entry forward to tomorrow… for the next three and a half months I am officially "in training".  Every day. 

(It seems to me that, in addition to establishing a workout routine, my success is also tied to maintaining better sleep and diet habits.  Maybe I will address these in future posts.  If anyone has any advice to impart, experiences to tell or resources to share, feel free to give me a good hard slap in the comments.  Have a good week, everyone.)

Schnappschüsse! Year One Retrospective

In a couple of weeks I will have accumulated two full years of daily snapshots (archived at my "schnappschüsse!" tumblog).  Illustrative of much of my world-wide-rambling, second-guessing and rhetorical hand-wringing – a year removed from the first anniversary I found myself considering what would have been a good idea at the time: a look back at that year’s photos.  I will properly mark the two-year point on June 2nd, but today I am playing catch-up.

For those familiar, the tag line is "keep track of every day the date emblazoned in your morning" – a Jack Kerouac quote that, while grammatically odd, sort of distills the essence of the snapshot project for me.  There is no way I have the willpower, especially right now, to keep any kind of daily journal.  I used to write a poem a day, at least, but those days are long gone.  Taking a picture now serves that same purpose.  It makes every day important.  It forces a memory and cements that moment in time and space forever.  Okay, it’s just a pic from a mobile phone, but the idea makes each day a little more significant or a little harder to just toss away while getting caught looking ahead to the weekend or the next big event. 

So, the rest of the background is rather simple.  Two years ago I finally upgraded to a mobile phone that had a camera in it.  I, being in the midst of my ongoing "where has my creativity gone" crisis, and being aware of of projects like Jamie Livingston’s Photo Of The Day, decided to use the new-to-me technology to my advantage.  The rest is in the archives.  I haven’t been very good at all at sticking with so many of my creative projects, but this one is a success story.  The snaps march on. 

The selection methodology here is not concrete or complex.  These are ten photos out of 365, most of which say something and mean something to me.  These are photos that may be significant for the date on which they were taken, the subject matter, the memory it evokes, or that merely lend themselves to a short quasi-interesting paragraph.  It begins with…



6/2/2009 – Untitled

10.  The beginning.  This shot of the burned-out husk of Woodlawn Methodist Church has the distinction of being the first daily snap.  Nothing like establishing the notion right off that not every snapshot is going to be gummy bear art and whimsy.  Two nights before, my wife and I were driving back to Crestwood via 1st Ave N after having had dinner somewhere in town.  By that time the flames had died down, but the building was still smoldering and the emergency vehicles had the streets blocked in both directions.  It was devastating.  My mother and her family attended this church when she was growing up here in the 1950’s.  I’d always wanted to attend a service, but never got the opportunity.  The church continues, but the historic building was a total loss.  Click here for a "before" pic.


snap081809 (stuck in time)

8/18/2009 – Stuck In Time

9.  Just look at that.  Is this a digital scan of a polaroid from 1974?  Nay.  At the tail end of the first decade of the 21st century, the boardroom of this Bham, AL labor union office looks like they got their furnishings from when a used tire store remodeled their customer lounge sometime during the Ford administration.  Look at that television… it has rabbit-ears for chrissakes!  I’m guessing they have a hard time viewing their PowerPoint presentations on that thing.  You can see for yourself – these are authentic period accoutrements.  The chairs, the curtains (what fabric is that?), the nuclear-orange walls.  This was my work space for two weeks.  In all fairness, that adding machine with the tape roll.. that’s mine. 


snap053110 (top of the rock)

5/31/2010 – Top of the Rock

8.  New York City from the top of Rockefeller Center.  This snap sort of illustrates part of the progression over the year.  At first the ‘daily snap’ was just a quick, dirty click of the blackberry shutter.  Now I am beginning to care about presentation as well as pure content.  See how level that horizon line is?  That’s because by this time I have become meticulous about my snapshot-taking – mostly attributable to the knowledge that these will be appearing on the internet for anyone to see.  The snapshot as an extension of myself.  Ugh.  This is also significant because NYC is my favorite place in the universe.  Expect at least one more from the Big Apple below.



6/20/2009 – Untitled

7.  Lake Martin from the old Scarborough lake house.  There are plenty of things I miss about Alabama, but most of them can be compensated for in some way or another (keeping in touch with friends via social media, email, etc.; green chile in place of collard greens).  The lake is not one of those things.  Having a quiet spot, even in the wintertime when the water level was lowered so far that our dock would rest on the sandy bottom, to escape to for a weekend when things got really stressful… there is nothing here that takes the place of that.  This was our sanctuary, and only an hour and a half down Hwy 280.  I took it for granted.  We built this place in 1994 (maybe?) and for years my family played along these shores; and then in later years it became a place where friends, relations, and finally my own family (my wife, my dog) would congregate with each other and shake off the cares of modern life for an extended weekend or so.  Nothing remains untouched by tragedy, of course.  After my brother’s accident in 2002, the house took on a heavy, somber vibe that never dissipated.  The weight of memory is tremendous.  My parents have upgraded to a new house across the lake now, where they can escape from their own burdens.  That place is wonderful too, and necessary.  But this spot will always be special. 


snap030910 (baby our love song must survive)

3/8/2010 – Baby, Our Love Song Must Survive

6.  On March 8, Over The Rhine played at the Workplay Theatre in Birmingham.  This band’s older stuff is amazing, although I could honestly do without their last couple of releases.  (Check out Good Dog, Bad Dog, Films For Radio and Ohio for their best work.)  The point really isn’t the band.  I think this is a great shot from a great angle.  Karin looks like she’s looking right at the camera.  And, look, if you have the opportunity to see a show at Workplay, please do.  It is a top notch venue and the ambience (in the theatre-space anyway) is intimate and unique.  We’ve had some great times and seen some fantastic acts from the balcony there.


snap031810 (highlight of my week)

3/18/2010 – Highlight of my Week

5.  Ah, snapshots wherein I make fun of my boring job.  This was tax season.  Copy the client data.  Enter the pertinent information into the computer program.  Highlight the corresponding figures on the source documents.  Print.  File.  Repeat.  I love the illusion of action here, though.  It’s a pic that turned out well.


snap100309 (didnt go to oxford)

10/3/2009 – Didn’t Go To Oxford

4.  This one started out as just me being an ass.  Take a candid picture of my unsuspecting wife and put it on the internet without her consent (with a funny caption).  It’s an innocuous sample of my favorite kind of humor – the inappropriate kind.  Over time, though, it has become one of my favorite shots.  First off, she just looks great here… she’s got that playful, relaxed smile with a touch of ‘don’t you dare post this online’ look for good measure.  And she’s wearing my sweatshirt from the semester I spent abroad.  I love that.  This one encapsulates the essence of the project.  Moments like this happen all the time.  How many of them are just glossed over – just one more Sunday morning at the pancake house or something?  But not this one.  This happy moment is burned into my memory forever.  Yay, photography!



7/4/2009 – Untitled

3.  New York again.  I went to the city by myself for the Fourth of July weekend that year.  This is the patio area of the Think Coffee on Bleecker Street.  Significance?  This is the exact spot at the exact time where I last wrote something that I liked.  And then the hand of the muse departed, and I have been searching for her ever since. 


snap032410 (hello fellow innocent bystander)

3/24/2010 – Hello Fellow Innocent Bystander

2.  Snapshot as unintentional art.  I think this one is beautiful.  It used to be a tart-warmer – a little vessel that holds a small chunk of scented wax that, when melted by placing a tea light underneath it, produces a pleasant odor throughout your living room or what-not.  Leslie was having a stressful week, and had already inadvertently broken the ceramic doorknob on our front door.  The stained-glass tart-warmer was another casualty.  I teased her relentlessly, of course.  Truth is, the tart-warmer is prettier this way.  I still use it as my desktop background sometimes.


snap010710 (remember)

1/6/2010 – Remember

1.  You’re damn right this is number one.  The Crimson Tide had twelve college football national championships at that time, but it had been seventeen years since the last one.  My alma mater’s fight song, composed in 1926, declares "Fight on, fight on, fight on, men!  Remember the Rose Bowl, we’ll win then!"  2009 could not have been more perfect.  At season’s end, my dad and I found ourselves in sunny Pasadena, CA for the BCS national championship game.  Don’t mistake me… making Tim Tebow cry was the highlight of the ’09 season, but watching our defense splatter Texas for four hours was a close second.  When the confetti was launched into the air: best father-son moment EVER. 


Stay tuned for the year two recap.  Expect Gramiscellany/Thought Dump to return once it’s not the only thing happening on the site.

Gramiscellany: RSS Purge Edition

Let me get this out of the way first:  the "gramiscellany" posts are supposed to be weekly summaries of randomness that supplement the blog – not that comprise the blog’s entirety.  It’s a work in progress.  (It is supposed to be published on Friday evenings, too.  Oops.)  Speaking of works in progress, those of you visiting my site on a mobile device might be experiencing things a bit differently.  I am experimenting with creating a mobile version of Grammaticaster.  Currently, it is ugly as sin.  For those of you viewing the standard version, it looks like this:


Hideous, right?  Bland.  This will get better or will disappear entirely.  Also, there should be a link at the bottom of the page that will redirect you to the normal view.

Now: some fun links.  Today I have been purging my google reader "starred items" and, as part of the process, I selected ten old bookmarked articles for your browsing enjoyment.  Here you go.

You’re welcome!